Thursday, May 23, 2024

Late equaliser from Noah Okafor rescues AC Milan a point at Sassuolo

SoccerNews in Serie A 14 Apr 2024

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AC Milan needed a late equaliser from substitute Noah Okafor to rescue a point at the end of a stunning 3-3 draw away at Sassuolo, but saw their faint hopes of winning the Serie A title all but extinguished.

Okafor struck in the 84th minute, turning the ball home from a corner barely three minutes after being summoned from the bench by Stefano Pioli, as Milan salvaged a point from a game that had looked beyond them when the hosts raced into a two-goal lead inside the opening 10 minutes.

Andrea Pinamonti and Armand Lauriente hit the visitors with a rapid-fire double as they sought to breathe momentum into their hopes of avoiding the drop.

A win here would have dragged them out of the bottom three, but Milan hit back quickly with Rafael Leao scoring after 20 minutes to jangle Sassuolo’s nerves.

Lauriente hit his second after the break to make it 3-1, but facing disaster Pioli’s side summoned the necessary resolve to rescue a draw, first Luka Jovic made it 3-2 just before the hour mark, then Okafor struck late to cap a dramatic encounter.

Sassuolo were good value for their early lead, given to them when Pinamonti finished with aplomb into the bottom corner with the game just four minutes old, his 10th of the season for the strugglers who remained second from bottom of the table.

And it was 2-0 six minutes later when Lauriente netted his first of the afternoon, bursting through the visiting defence and scoring to stun Milan.

The Rossoneri were already facing the possibility of seeing Inter seal the title when the two sides meet at San Siro later in April, and the prospect of seeing their city rivals crowned champions was all but rubber stamped here.

They were at least spared the ignominy of a sixth league defeat of the season, Leao starting the comeback when he slotted past goalkeeper Andrea Consigli after 20 minutes.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek was fortunate not to concede a penalty shortly after half-time, but Sassuolo soon had their two-goal lead again, Lauriente turning the ball home to spark joyous scenes amongst home fans.

It would have been a famous win, one that would have been a huge boost to their hopes of securing a 12th consecutive Serie A season, but Milan would not lie down, Jovic giving them hope with a goal after 59 minutes.

Okafor came off the bench to ensure late drama and spare his team’s blushes, but it is unlikely to alter the destination of the title.

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